The High Court sitting in Lilongwe has given Malawi Local Government Association (Malga) the green light to commence judicial review proceedings following the association’s opposition to newly adopted guidelines for managing Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and Water Resources Fund (WRF).
Lawyer for the association, Marshall Chilenga, confirmed the development in an interview Monday, saying Judge Simeon Mdeza granted them the order on June 10 2022.
Mdeza has, however, dismissed Malga’s application to have implementation of the said guidelines stayed.
“Yes, the court has granted us a go ahead to commence judicial review proceedings. I should be sharing [contents of] the order once it is issued,” Chilenga said.
Among other things, Malga is unhappy that the new guidelines are giving members of Parliament (MPs) more control over CDF and WRF finances than local councillors, apart from instructing councils to hire liaison and constituency development officers to help in the management of resources.
Malga Executive Director Hadrod Mkandawire said Monday that the guidelines are not in tandem with principles of devolution.
“We are of the view that the revised CDF and WRF guidelines are undermining constitutionally provided roles of ward councillors on local development…. We will proceed to file the case as directed by the court and also make necessary amendments so that we get an interim relief as we wait for the case,” he said.
Commenting on the development, Local Government and Rural Development Minister Blessings Chinsinga said they would allow the court process to run its course.
“For Malga, it is a triumph because they want a legalistic pronouncement, but whether it is an optimum way of dealing with a hotly contested issue remains an open question. As the matter is now in court, let us allow court processes to run their course but, generally, political problems require political solutions,” he said.
On March 24 2022, Parliament adopted new guidelines for implementation of CDF and WRF amid concerns that legislators consolidated their powers at the expense of local councillors and other stakeholders.